Southampton FC Home Kit for 2014/2015 launched

Southampton Football Club today unveiled its 2014/15 home kit with a clear message: the stripes are back.

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The past two seasons have seen the team play in what were effectively all-red shirts.However, Saints’ new board have decided to revert back to the more traditional look – something that many supporters had hoped for.  The club said: “The new strip celebrates Saints’ long and rich heritage with a design that is bespoke and unique to the club.”

Saints are producing the kit in-house this season, after their previous deal with adidas came to an early end.  The 2014/15 home strip will go on sale on Saturday 19th July, with the away kit to be revealed in the near future.

Adults’ home shirts will be priced at £50, with a long-sleeved version available at £55. Children’s shirts will be £40, with infants’ mini-kits priced £35.

The 2014/15 home strip will be available via the Saints Megastore, the Saints Store at WestQuay and the club’s online store:

Liverpool FC 2014-2015 Premier League fixtures

Liverpool will kick off their 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season with a home clash against Southampton at Anfield after the Reds’ fixtures for the new campaign were released today.

LFC 2014-2015 fixtures

Brendan Rodgers’ charges will then make successive away trips to reigning champions Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, while a journey to Stoke City awaits in their final match.

The first Merseyside derby of the season against Everton will take place at Anfield on Saturday September 27, with the return clash scheduled for February 7, 2015 at Goodison Park.

Chelsea visit L4 on November 8 and Liverpool host Arsenal on December 20, with the reverse fixtures on May 9 and April 4 respectively; City travel to Merseyside on February 28.

Our opening meeting with Manchester United is arranged for December 13 at Old Trafford, and Rodgers’ team will take on their rivals on home soil on March 21.

Please note that all match dates are subject to change for television coverage and European football commitments, with a definitive schedule to be compiled next week. The first round of broadcast selections will be made later this week.

Church of England releases World Cup prayers

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The Church of England has released Prayers for the World Cup, including prayers for the England Team ahead of England’s first match against Italy.

The Prayers have been written by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt. Revd. Nick Baines, who originally penned them during the last football World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and has posted them on his blog.

In addition to prayers for those participating in the World Cup and those travelling to “join in the party” there is also a prayer for those for who “are simply not interested” by the competition.

Bishop Nick has also written two prayers for the England Team, written after the end of the last World Cup. The first of these “Oh God…” reflects the lived experience of many England football fans, whilst the second prayer is a light hearted take on a traditional prayer used by the Church of England  in June each year to mark Bishop Richard of Chichester in 1253.

Speaking ahead of the release of the prayers, Bishop Nick, a die-hard Liverpool fan, said:

“God is not partisan and there are bigger things to pray for around the world, not least in Iraq, Nigeria and Sudan to name but three.  At its heart prayer is about expressing our desires honestly and having our vision of God, the world and one another changed by our praying.  For the next few weeks at least the passions and hearts of millions of men, women and children around the world will be focused on Brazil, where I’m pretty sure there will be lots of prayers being offered up throughout the tournament.

I know some have suggested it might take too much of a miracle for England to win the World Cup; we constantly over-rate, over-hype and over-anticipate England performance and then indulge in a collective intemperate bloodletting against team and manager when they fail to deliver on the big stage.  My hope is that the World Cup would be a reminder of the joy of a nation coming together in a common cause  – something that in itself is worth celebrating.”

Prayer 1
A Prayer for the World Cup

Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others.
Amen.

Prayer 2
A Prayer for Brazil

God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.
Smile on Brazil in her hosting,
on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party.
Amen.

Prayer 3
A prayer for those simply not interested

Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.
Amen.

Prayer 4
Prayers  for the England Football team

“Oh God…”

Prayer 5

“God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly. Amen.”

Sturridge scored a stunner for England

England v Montenegro - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Daniel Sturridge scored a stunning goal as England recorded a 3-0 friendly victory over Peru at Wembley on Friday night.

The Liverpool striker curled home the opener just after the half-hour mark, collecting a throw in from Anfield teammate Glen Johnson before skipping inside and clipping into the top corner over goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez:

The Reds duo were joined in the starting XI by Steven Gerrard, who skippered the team, and Jordan Henderson. Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, was introduced into the action as a second-half substitute.

Centre-backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka were England’s other scorers.

Afterwards, Sturridge said:

“It is not important about myself, it is about the team and our preparation; putting in a shift tactically and technically to be in the best shape for the first game.  It was difficult to be fair because they defended well and they were very compact.  We had worked very hard throughout the week and there wasn’t the match sharpness as much as we would have liked.  But it was great to be out there and we are happy with the result.”

Liverpool FC: Rickie Lambert fee agreed

Rickie Lambert

Rickie Lambert, preparing for Friday night’s England first pre-World Cup friendly with Peru, is on the brink of signing for Liverpool in a deal worth £4m plus add-ons, with the striker understood to be desperate to join his hometown team, who rejected him as a 15-year-old.

Rickie Lambert is expected to undergo a medical at Liverpool on Saturday after an initial £4m fee was agreed with Southampton.  The Reds had a bid accepted for the 32-year-old and personal terms have been agreed.

Lambert, a lifelong Liverpool fan, was born and raised in Kirkby and was with Liverpool’s Academy from the age of ten, before director Steve Heighway told him, at the age of 15, that he would not make the grade. “I never hold any grudges. These things either make or break you,” Lambert reflected recently. “At the time he (Heighway)was quite right to let me go. I wasn’t good enough. I thought it was the end of the world.” After three subsequent appearances for Blackpool, Lambert was released in 2000 by then manager Steve McMahon.

The centre-forward, who is in England’s squad for this summer’s World Cup, scored 14 times last season for the Saints, who paid Bristol Rovers £1m for the player’s services in August 2009.

Since then he has become an established Premier League striker and scored on his England debut, notching with his first touch in international football after coming on as a substitute against Scotland in August 2013.

A powerful and strong player, Lambert is also a free-kick specialist and has an exceptional penalty record, having scored his past 34 spot-kicks and having never missed for Southampton.

In Lambert, the Reds would be getting a player who will be an excellent back-up to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and he will see the move as a dream come true, being a boyhood fan and Liverpool-born, like Robbie Fowler returning to Anfield in 2006.

Lambert is a player who will add experience, professionalism and desire to the squad – a player with an excellent attitude, which will endear him to manager Brendan Rodgers. He’ll also add much-needed depth up front.  Attitude and the correct mentality are constantly mentioned by Rodgers and have become synonymous with Liverpool lately under the manger’s transformation of the club. Those attributes are what Lambert will also bring to the club.

He certainly offers more options from the bench than Rodgers has had in the past 12 months, and at that price would be a good buy for the club.  When Man United signed Teddy Sheringham in 1997, aged 31, it proved to be a superb move, and Lambert’s could be likewise for Liverpool.

Liverpool FC launch 2014/2015 training kit

LFC - Training Kit 2014-2015

Liverpool Football Club and award-winning airline Garuda Indonesia today revealed the Reds’ training range for next season during an event in Indonesia.

LFC legends Didi Hamann, Phil Thompson and Luis Garcia took the club’s Champions League trophy to Central Park mall to celebrate the team’s return to the competition, as well as the launch of Garuda Indonesia’s very-first direct flight into Europe.  The three European Cup-winning players unveiled the 2014-15 training kit, which will be worn by manager Brendan Rodgers and the squad, including Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Hamann said:

“Liverpool have been without Champions League football for five seasons until now. This is a very special moment for the club and fans.  What makes today extra special is that Garuda are launching their first direct flight to Europe so myself and the other former players will be taking the European Cup on that special flight.”

The national airline of Indonesia became the club’s Official Airline Partner in 2012.  Following the success of Liverpool’s 2013 pre-season tour to Asia and Australia, Garuda Indonesia decided to take their partnership with the Reds to the next level by becoming their training kit partner.

The Reds enjoy a massive fan base in Asia, and especially in Indonesia where the club has the biggest following of any local-language LFC Twitter account with more than 100,000 followers, along with the second biggest following on the club’s Facebook page (two million).

Check out the 2014-15 LFC Garuda Indonesia training range and pre-order now.

Why did Liverpool lose the Premier League title race?

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This last season has to go down as one of the most exciting but frustrating as a Liverpool fan.  The phrase “so close and yet so far” comes to mind.

In the Premier league defence wins league titles, and this was our most critical issue this last season.  In recent years the worst defensive team to win a title was Manchester United in 00/01 who had the 5th best defence that season.  Liverpool finished 8th, and although we’ve conceded goals throughout the season it was in the last two weeks that we went from 6th to 8th.

There is a lot of debate amongst Liverpool fans on why we are flawed defensively. What are the reasons for it? Is it systematic, are we tactically naive, are our defenders not good enough, do the midfield players provide enough cover, are we mentally weak, or are we just inexperienced?

System

I think the system in itself is fine. Whether it’s a 4-4-2 diamond or 4-3-3 formation with split center backs and Gerrard as a deep midfielder and the fullbacks very wide and far up the pitch. This is absolutely fine for me. However I think we need to have the right players to make it work.

To be fair, it’s been working very well because 81 points from 37 games is better than any of us hoped for in August. To win the big prizes though it needs to work a little bit better and I believe the right players will do that.

Personnel

We have good but not outstanding defenders.  Our defenders need to be quicker and stronger in the tackle, none of them are strong in the 2 v 2 or 1 v 1 situations.

Lack of mental strength

No matter what our tactics are we tend to lose control of games and concede chances when we are put under pressure. Brendan mentioned it himself. Many of our players make bad decisions when put under pressure.  Can you coach players out of having mental breakdowns?

You expect it from young, inexperienced players but Johnson, Skrtel, Agger and Kolo have 477 international caps between them. Surely such experienced players shouldn’t be so prone to error.  Sakho has over 150 appearances for PSG and cost us £18m. You would expect the finished article but at 24 years of age and in a foreign league with only 19 appearances under his belt maybe he needs a bit of time and Premier League experience before we cast judgement.

It is not just the defenders that make mental errors.  Gerrard has made more defensive errors than all of our defenders while Henderson has made as many.

Lack of leadership

Jamie Carragher spoke about a lack of leadership in the Liverpool defence. I must say I agree with him. But it is a worry when you have the captain of Denmark, captain of the Ivory Coast, captain of Slovakia and the former PSG captain in your back four but still there is no leadership.

Conclusion?

I think with better defenders we’d have won the league. That might come across as over simplifying it but when I say better I mean better leadership, mental strength, pace, ability in 1v1 situations, decision making and less of a propensity to make errors.

So Ian Ayre and transfer committee, step forward. It’s not easy finding defenders of this calibre but it’s what the recruitment guys get paid good money to do. Brendan Rodgers took the side from 7th to challenging for the title, this despite a couple of ordinary transfer windows. It is time for the other members of the transfer committee to do their bit.

For me it’s pretty clear what we need to do to improve the team. Better full backs (please!!!), a central defensive leader, an attacking player who can play wide or at the apex of the diamond, a striker and cover for Henderson and Gerrard.

I see Brendan has agreed a new 4 year deal. Fully deserved, the man has done a great job and in my opinion is the manager of the year.

Today is Finals Day!

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Today is all about watching European Cup Finals – first up is the Rugby with the Heineken Cup Final – Saracens v Toulon, kick off is at 5.00pm.

Follow that up with the Champions League final – Real Madrid v Athletico Madrid, kick off at 7.45pm.

Come and watch these at the Coffee Shop, in the St. Andrew’s Centre, on the biggest screen in Dibden and Dibden Purlieu. Bring some money to enjoy a drink and some munchies – if you’re over 18 feel free to bring your own alcoholic drinks to drink in moderation.

Flying Over New York City in Wingsuits

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Sometimes parachuting out of an airplane just isn’t cool enough

For the first time in history, a group was granted permission to soar through the air above the picturesque New York City skyline — a luxury usually reserved for pigeons.  Five members of the Red Bull Air Force dove from a height of 7,500 feet above Manhattan’s Financial District. The group reached speeds of 120 miles per hour before landing safely on a small barge in the Hudson River just two minutes after jumping:

The stunt was performed in preparation for the Bethpage Air Show, which will be held at Jones Beach on May 24 and 25.

Below is a first-person shot from one of the athletes:

Liverpool FC reveal brand new away kit for 2014-15

Liverpool’s brand new Warrior away strip for the 2014-15 season was launched in Dublin this afternoon, ahead of the Reds’ post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers.

Liverpool FC Away Kit 2014-2015

Brendan Rodgers believes that the revamped second strip is one ‘that fans and players will respond to’ – and there is little doubt that the club’s official kit supplier has captured the illustrious past with their latest offering.

The club’s official kit supplier has reinvigorated a classic in producing an iconic yellow strip that evokes memories of the Reds’ rich history – none more so than the FA Cup final success of 2001.

Featuring a range of contemporary design details and technical innovations, the revamped shirt, shorts and socks are engineered for superior performance.  A moisture-wicking War-Tech fabric uses responsive technology that helps keep players focused, while the four-way stretch mesh panelling under the arms and across the shoulders of the shirt facilitates optimum ventilation that allows for added comfort and temperature control in core heat areas, helping to regulate body temperature.

In line with the new home kit, which was unveiled in April and launched for sale earlier this month, a modern crew neck collar is designed for freedom of movement and comfort.  The main body of the kit, meanwhile, is dominated with a powerful yellow, with contrasting red cut and sewn panels that deliver a 360-degree design aesthetic, following the contours of the body.

Take a look through the slideshow below to see various members of the squad modelling the smart yellow design, which they will wear proudly at stadiums across the country throughout the next campaign.

Liverpool FC: Winning in Style

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With Manchester City failing to beat Sunderland Liverpool’s title dream is getting closer to reality with every passing day.

The Reds have some tricky must win fixtures ahead starting with Norwich, a home fixture against Chelsea, away to Crystal Palace and wrapping the season up with Newcastle United at Anfield.

Even though winning is all that matters during this stage of the season Rodgers wants his players to play the best football and remember the class and traditions of the club as they bid to win a 19th top-flight crown:

We will try to do it in the right way – I take great pride in winning in the most sporting way we can.  If you look at us we are top of the Premier League and we are top of the Fair Play League. We don’t surround referees. We want to win, but it shows you a mark of our behaviour.  They are the values of this club. It’s a club that has won many trophies in the past but had the humility and the class. One word I always had in my mind when I joined Liverpool is ‘class.’ So that is important to me – that those values are restored.  I believe you can’t affect refereeing decisions. Absolutely. There will be little bits of luck that go for and against you but I like to think as a sporting team and a team that’s trying to work well we’ve got our rewards this year.

With topping the Fair Play league and playing some of the finest football whilst scoring 100 plus goals Liverpool are worthy winner of the Premier league medal if they manage to pass the next four hurdles.